Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


  Contact : 336-992-5664

All posts by Monte Long

Winterize

How to Winterize Your Home to Save Energy Costs

There’s no denying it: Winter is on its way.

Winterizing your home can help lower your energy bills, prevent bigger more costly repairs later on and reduce the risk of accidents like a home heating fire. (Side note: That’s why having the right homeowners insurance can give you peace of mind, too.)

Ready? Keep reading to walk through the big list of projects to tackle this fall, or download our free PDF printable on how to winterize your home.

FALL HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

Indoors:

  • Windows and doors: Prevent chilly drafts (and pricey heating bills) by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping and caulking any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap. Drapes, curtains, shades and blinds can also help reduce heat loss, according to energy.gov. For your chimney, floors, vents and more, these tips can keep cold air out of your house.
  • Fireplace: Check your fireplace and flue system to remove soot or ashes. Check for cracks that could be a fire hazard. If you’re not planning on using your fireplace at all, invest in a chimney balloon, which is a device designed to safely block the opening. (Just remember to take it out before you build a fire next season.) Most importantly, know what fixes are safe for you to tackle and what should be in the hands of a certified chimney sweep with training and proper equipment. Whether this is your first year or fifth year with your chimney, you might need an inspection. Read this guide on chimney inspections.
  • Furnace: Before you turn up the heat for the season, start by changing (or cleaning) your furnace filter. (Not sure how to change your furnace filter? Check out these tips.) It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC professional check your furnace once per year. And if you can’t remember the last time you had your heating ducts checked for leaks and efficiency, an HVAC professional can help with that, too.
  • Thermostat: For every degree you lower your home’s temperature during the winter, you can save as much as 1%on your energy bill (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a smart model to save on heating costs. Many new thermostats have algorithms to learn your comings and goings so you’re not paying to keep your home toasty warm when you’re not around. Read these additional energy-saving tips for when the cold weather hits.
  • Other home heating:  We know they’re cozy but be extra cautious when using space heaters. Space heaters cause an estimated 44% of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Regardless of how you heat your home, read these tips on using home heating sources safely.
  • Drafts and cracks: Cold air will take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home. Here’s a list of quick fixes for drafty places:
    • Outlets and switch plates: Use foam-insulating sheets to block cold air coming in from exterior walls.
    • Exposed ducts: Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and use sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks on exposed ducts.
    • Floors: Don’t underestimate the power of a thick, cozy rug. Your floors can account for as much as 10% of heat loss in a house.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: While you’re in the process of prepping your house for the long winter, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. You can create a family fire escape plan using these seven tips.

Outdoors:

  • Gutters: Clogged gutters, and subsequent water issues, can cause a lot of problems, like foundation problems, wall and ceiling damage, or even insect infestations. (Read more in our related post about what can happen if you don’t clean your gutters.) Start by clearing debris from gutters and downspouts to prevent them from leaking or sagging. Just make sure you do it safely – use a tall, sturdy ladder (check out our guide to picking the best ladder for your DIY job), and don’t forget protective eyewear, gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself against debris, bacteria and pests.
  • Roof: Snow can be a heavy burden for an old or damaged roof to handle. Before winter hits, inspect your roof for signs of potential problems, like missing, broken, blistered or curling shingles; cracked caulk or rust spots; or large patches of moss and lichen. Any damaged, loose or missing shingles should be repaired right away.
  • Trees and landscaping: It’s a good idea to trim any branches hanging near electric wires before they become a problem. Also, know how to spot the signs of a diseased or dying tree. Heavy snow and strong winter winds can knock down weak branches (or whole trees), so it’s best to do the prep work while the weather’s still mild.
  • Lawn equipment: Drain the oil and gas from your mower before storing it for the off-season. Gasoline can separate and spoil in only a few weeks, which could potentially damage your engine.
  • Snow removal supplies: Before the first snow, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and bought supplies early. Inspect the bolts, belts and parts on your snowblower; make sure your snow shovel is in good shape; stock up on ice melt or sand; and invest in a snow rake to help clear your roof. Snow accumulation on your roof that exceeds 20 pounds per square foot can be dangerous.
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Prepare Your House for Trick-or-Treaters

How To Prepare Your House for Trick-or-Treaters

Prepare Your House for Trick-or-TreatersIt’s nearly Halloween — the time for superhero capes, princess tiaras and children scampering from porch to porch.

No matter the trick-or-treaters’ game plan, they are ready for a candy bonanza – and that starts with a knock at your door. So don’t let slips, trips and falls dampen anyone’s night. Make sure you fit in a simple safety check before you fill the candy bowl.

If you plan on welcoming trick-or-treaters this year, we have nine tips to help you get ready.

HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS

  1. Clear the walkways. Toys, rakes, errant stones — clear them all out of the way before trick-or-treating starts. (Wet leaves are an especially slippery culprit!) A quick clean-up is one of the easiest ways to make your home safer from slip, trip and fall hazards
  2. Light it up. Turn on your exterior lights, including any flood lights, to help create a safe path for trick-or-treaters. Check these early so you have time to replace any burned-out bulbs.
  3. Corral your pets. With all the doorbells and visitors, Halloween can be stressful for your animals  – and even a well behaved pet can bite or scratch when they feel anxious. A constantly opening door makes it easy for furry friends to escape, too A better idea? Keep pets in a secured room or wing of the house.
  4. Lock all other doors. Mischief can happen when you’re doling out candy, so play it safe by locking all of your other doors. (That includes any garage and car doors, too!) The FBI reports that approximately 30% of all burglaries are committed without force courtesy of an unlocked door or window.
  5. Check your railing. If it feels rickety, take the time to secure it in place.
  6. Skip candles. Yes, they give your pumpkins that spooky glow. But a live flame isn’t worth the fire risk you consider all the draping costumes and accessories that will whiz by the flame. Pro tip: Opt for the flameless variety instead.
  7. Consider your candy choices. Many kids are allergic to candy ingredients like nuts. To help them enjoy the holiday, The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages leaving a teal pumpkin on your stoop to let trick-or-treaters know that you have non-food treats like stickers and toys on hand.
  8. Pick a good spot. If you have a lot of stairs or a long, winding path, consider handing out candy at the end of your driveway. Another option is to host a ‘trunk-or-treat’ event at another location.
  9. Comb your yard. With all luck, the kiddos will stay on sidewalks and driveways. But they may wander. Clear out sticks, objects or other tripping hazards from your yard.

Check out these blogs for more tips and tricks (the good kind) on Halloween safety:

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Questions to Ask Your Agent at Every Stage of Life

Questions to Ask Your Agent at Every Stage of Life

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK AN INSURANCE AGENT IN YOUR 20’S AND 30’S

1. We’re getting married. Should we wed our auto insurance as well?

If one of you has a Mad Max-like driving history, then auto insurance might be one of those things you don’t merge once married. But if you and your spouse both have good driving records and no recent gaps in insurance coverage, you might save money by combining policies.

For a few more dollars a month, you can add ERIE Auto Plus, which includes features such as additional days of transportation expense coverage1 and waived deductible in certain situations that make ERIE’s great auto coverage even better.

2. We’re hunting for our first house – should homeowners insurance weigh into what we buy?

In the excitement of finding that first home, some buyers forget to consider the cost of homeowners insurance, and how different locations and types of homes might impact it. According to Realtor.com, the average annual cost for homeowners insurance is $952. However, factors such as distance from a fire department, proximity to storm-prone coastal areas, age of the home and your claims history can play a role in what it ultimately costs to insure a particular house.

A conversation with your ERIE agent as you start your search can give you a better perspective on potential costs and how they may impact what you can afford.

3. We’re having a baby. Should we get life insurance?

A new baby brings new responsibilities – and new expenses. Life insurance can help make sure that if an untimely death occurs, the surviving spouse can handle those responsibilities and costs without interruption.

Life insurance pays money to a chosen beneficiary — a spouse or co-parent, for example — when the insured person dies. In the short term, you can use the life insurance proceeds to pay for funeral expenses. Over time, it can help pay the mortgage and fund your child’s education.

These 8 tips for first-time life insurance buyers provide useful information to get you started.

4. Term or whole life?

So you’ve resolved to get life insurance. Now you face a new question: What kind?

  • Term life: Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific number of years (such as a 30-year policy to sync up with your new 30-year mortgage). For young people starting out, term is often the easiest, most affordable option.
  • Whole life: If you’re looking for lifelong coverage, then consider a whole life policy, sometimes called a permanent life plan. A smart approach is to get term insurance and make sure you’re covered now. During your policy term, you may often have the option to renew it or convert it into a permanent life plan.

A local ERIE agent can explain your options and help you decide what’s best for you.

5. What do you offer beyond the basics for homeowners insurance?

We get it: Your home is often the biggest investment you’ll make. It’s worth it to add on some extra protection to protect what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Ask your local agent about ERIE Secure Home Bundles, which allow you to expand your protection beyond our standard homeowner’s policy with coverage available for underground service lines, appliances and more.

6. We’re digital natives… why do we need a human insurance agent?

It makes sense to buy a lot of products online. Buying online is often easier – and sometimes more cost effective. But when it comes to insurance, a DIY online policy isn’t always the best choice. Because insurance protects the things you care about most, there are benefits to working with an insurance agent.

Savvy Questions Before You Turn 45

The ages 35 to 45 are kind of the tweener years for grownups. You’re no longer just starting out – but you don’t really feel ‘middle-aged,’ either.

Conversely, as Bruce Springsteen would say, perhaps ‘you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore.’

With a growing family and responsibilities, you’re at the stage in your life that making the right insurance decisions is key. Doing so helps make sure you are prepared for whatever life throws at you, while also laying the foundation for a financially secure future.

Here are seven questions you should be asking now to help make sure you’re making smart decisions.

1. What is guaranteed replacement cost?

Losing your home to a fire or other catastrophe is a terrible experience. Yet, it can get even worse if, in the aftermath, you learn that you don’t have enough coverage to rebuild your house back to the way it was before tragedy struck – or increased costs of labor and materials make construction more expensive than what your policy is set up to cover. This is why it’s vital to consider getting guaranteed replacement cost on your homeowners insurance policy. ERIE’s guaranteed replacement cost coverage can pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications after a covered loss.1 (Keep in mind that guaranteed replacement cost isn’t available in all states. In North Carolina, ask about Enhanced Replacement Cost.)

2. Should I do a home inventory?

Short answer, yes. You’ve spent your hard-earned money on furnishings, electronics, jewelry, clothes, collectibles and toys large and small. In the event of a fire, theft or other loss to your home and belongings, the best way to make sure you are fully covered is to conduct a home inventory that creates a video record of your belongings and the condition of your home.

This has many benefits – the biggest, of course, is to help you estimate the value of your stuff so you can work with your insurance agent to get enough coverage. But your home inventory can also help you file claims faster and potentially apply for certain tax breaks or disaster assistance in the event of a major loss.

Read our related explainer on how to start your home inventory.

3. Have my life insurance needs changed?

Probably. If you have put off getting life insurance, now is the time to stop procrastinating and make sure your family is covered if something happens to you. Further, if you bought life insurance coverage when you were starting out, now is a good time to revisit your policy to make sure what you have meets your current and future needs.

Now may be a good time to consider extending the years on a term insurance policy or discuss the benefits of converting it to a whole life policy. A local insurance professional like an ERIE agent can help talk you through your options and help you decide what’s right for you.

4. But I have life insurance through work – shouldn’t that cover it?

Many employers provide life insurance as one of the benefits they offer employees. That’s great! But, unfortunately, many people falsely assume that gives them all the life insurance coverage they need.

For instance, your employer might provide group insurance that pays out two times your annual salary in the event you die. If you make $50,000 a year, that $100,000 payout will certainly help your family in the short term. Over time, however, it will likely fall short to cover expenses such as college tuition or healthcare needs. It’s best to talk to your ERIE agent about to make sure you have enough coverage to leave a legacy that keeps your family secure for the long haul.

Read more in our related explainer: I Have Life Insurance Through Work. Isn’t That Enough?

5. Should I be thinking about writing or updating my will?

You’re at the age  you should definitely create a will if you haven’t already. Life just gets more financially complex when you own a home or have kids. And if it’s been several years since you initially wrote your will, now is a good time to update it. When you do, make sure your beneficiaries are updated if needed on your life insurance policies and investments.

Not sure where to start? Read our tips for how to choose a life insurance beneficiary.

6. Do I need a home warranty, or are my appliances covered in my homeowners policy?

Home appliances don’t last forever – and when they break down, you can face costly repairs. Sure you can purchase extra warranties, but those aren’t cheap either and they are often limited in coverage. Fortunately, ERIE customers ErieSecure Home®who also purchased Select bundle endorsement with Sewer and Drain Backup Coverage2 get an extra cushion of protection for major appliances and home systems right in a homeowners insurance policy with our Equipment Breakdown Coverage. Check with your ERIE agent to make sure you’re covered.

7. I’m on a tight budget. How can I avoid unexpected auto insurance rate hikes?

We all love a good deal. First: Check in with your local ERIE agent to make sure you’re getting all the insurance discounts you qualify for. (For example: With a multi-policy discount, you could save 16% to 25% if you insure multiple cars with us, or one car plus a home or life policy.)

IN YOUR 40’S AND 50’S

1. We’re on a collision course with college tuition and expenses. What can we do to ease the pain?

No doubt, expenses can be tight when you’re parenting teens and a “send money” request is just a push notification away. It pays to find ways to reduce costs any way you can.

Your ERIE agent can talk you through a range of potential insurance discounts, from multi-policy discounts and first accident forgiveness to a diminishing deductible option. Make sure to ask about the ERIE Rate Lock®  feature1, which assures your auto rates won’t change until you add or remove a vehicle or a driver, change your address, or where you usually park your car. This policy endorsement freezes your auto premium year after year, even if you file a claim. Cha-ching.

2. How should we prepare for having more drivers in the family?

Sweet 16 can be a bit bittersweet for parents of a prospective driver. It can be nerve-wracking but there are steps to take to make sure your teen drivers are as safe as possible on the road. One great option is YourTurn®, ERIE’s driving safety app that measures certain criteria such as speeding, hard braking and phone usage, helping to make drivers of all ages more aware of their driving behaviors and identifying areas for improvement2. ERIE also offers several insurance discounts for youthful drivers, from 5 percent to 20 percent, which could apply to your family if you have new drivers.

3. Are we covered if we – or our teens – lend our car to a friend?

Whether you are willing to hand the keys to your car over to a friend or family member is a personal choice. But know that doing so does carry some risk.

Read more in our related blog on whose insurance pays when you lend your car to friends or family.

For instance, in the event of an accident, it’s your auto insurance policy that typically would have to pay. Depending on the situation – and the specifics of your policy – you might get stuck paying a surcharge on your auto insurance premium for an at-fault accident, even if you weren’t the one driving at the time. (Every policy is different, so ask your ERIE agent if this applies to you.)

4. We’re driving some nicer vehicles these days; should we get nicer insurance?

It’s worth exploring. ERIE’s standard auto policies offer great coverage, but there are some affordable ways to get extra layers of protection in the event of a crash or damage to your vehicles.

For instance, say you bought a shiny new car 18 months ago, and it ends up getting totaled. Typically, your insurance will cover the current value of the vehicle… but with depreciation, that policy might not get you back in a ride that has the same quality and features of the one now destined for the junkyard.

But by adding the ERIE Auto Security endorsement3, if you total a new car4 that’s less than two years old, ERIE will pay for the cost for you to replace it with the newest model year. In short, your car will depreciate, but your insurance doesn’t.

Also worth checking out is ERIE Auto Plus. For an additional $35 per year, this endorsement provides added benefits and protection such as diminishing deductible5 and additional transportation expense coverage6.

5. Our roof doesn’t seem to be aging as well as we are. Do we have the right coverage?

Replacing a roof is often one of the biggest investments you make as a homeowner. And it’s important to remember that your insurance policy covers sudden, unexpected damage… not routine wear and tear. Roofing insurance claims can be complicated – and each insurance company covers roof damage differently – which is why it’s so important to have the right coverage.

Learn more in our related explainer on what homeowners should know about insurance and roofs.

You also should be thinking about all the stuff that roof protects. Taking a home inventory creates a video record of your belongings and the condition of your home. This can help you choose the just-right coverage for what you own. And if you have a loss, having an inventory can expedite claims filings and applying for certain tax breaks or disaster assistance in the event of a major loss. Read more in our guide to starting your home inventory.

6. Are there life insurance moves we can make now to help us plan for a better retirement?

Short answer, most likely. As you age, your life insurance needs change. In your younger years, you may have gotten a term life policy. That’s typically the most affordable option, but does not offer the same benefits as a whole life policy that can become part of your investment/nest egg planning.

WHEN YOU APPROACH RETIREMENT

1. It’s been a while since we looked at our home and auto policies. What are the must-haves we should know about?

With your thoughts likely turning to checking off your bucket list and prepping for a comfortable retirement, you don’t need any roadblocks that steer your plan off course. That should start with making sure you have home and auto insurance aimed at effectively handling any major losses.

When it comes to your home, ERIE’s guaranteed replacement cost coverage1 can pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications after a covered loss – even if increased costs of labor and materials make construction more expensive than expected. Additionally, ask your agent about ERIE Secure Home Bundles, which offer ways to expand your protection beyond our standard homeowners policy for underground service lines, appliances and more.

Cruising into retirement with a new ride? Ask about the ERIE Auto Security2endorsement. If you total a new car3 that’s less than two years old, ERIE will pay to replace it with the newest model year. (In short, your car will depreciate, but your insurance doesn’t.) And if you’re looking for an affordable way to boost your auto coverage, ask about ERIE Auto Plus for extra features for just $35 (or less) per year.

2. We’ll likely be on a fixed budget in retirement. What can we do to avoid unexpected rate hikes?

Your ERIE agent can talk you through a range of potential insurance discounts, from multi-policy discounts and first accident forgiveness to a diminishing deductible option.

As you cruise into your golden years on the road, ERIE offers a few discounts and perks:

  • 55+ Driving Discount: Yes, a discount for all of your good, hard-earned driving experience. Talk to your Agent about this discount.4
  • Reduced Usage Discount: A good option for snowbirds: If you plan to store your vehicle for 90 consecutive days or more, ERIE offers a reduced usage discount in most states (except Kentucky).4
  • Accident Prevention Course: Updating your driving skills, just like in your younger years, there’s a driving discount available for drivers 55+ who retake a driving skills course.

Beyond that, ERIE provides some additional options that help avoid untimely rate hikes. With the ERIE Rate Lock® feature6, you will pay the same auto premium year after year. Even if you have a claim, your rates won’t change until you make certain changes to your auto insurance policy, such as adding or removing a vehicle or a driver from your policy, changing your primary residence or where you usually park your car.

3. We’re thinking of downsizing. How might that affect our homeowners coverage and cost?

One might assume a smaller home translates to smaller insurance costs as well. But that’s not always the case, as a range of factors drive homeowners insurance rates. For instance, if your downsize lands you in a seaside bungalow, you could be facing a spike in what you pay for homeowners insurance because of the risks associated with coastal living.

The age of a home factors in, as well. On one hand, a newly built house needs fewer repairs and has the latest equipment, technology and safety features that can mean to lower risks — and (potentially) lower payments. On the other hand, if all that newer stuff costs more to replace, it could prove more costly to insure than your current home. Even your proximity to a fire department can impact rates.

It really comes down to a case-by-case situation. That’s why it’s a great benefit to have your ERIE agent involved during the house-hunting stage.

4. Does life insurance still make sense at this stage of our lives?

There’s no set answer for that question, which is definitely worth exploring with your ERIE agent. How much – or little – life insurance you have as an empty nester depends on a range of factors including your current and anticipated financial situation, the status of your dependents or grown children and your future plans.

Keep in mind that retirement savings might not stretch as far as expected after factoring in taxes, inflation and less-than-stellar investment returns. With a whole life policy, you can borrow against your policy cash value as well as use it to supplement your income during your retirement years. And while you’re thinking about life insurance make sure your will is updated and your beneficiaries are clearly defined.

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Neighbors Tree Falls

What Happens If My Neighbor’s Tree Falls in My Yard?

Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if a storm causes your neighbor’s tree to fall in your yard, your homeowners insurance could help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused on your property, after your deductible.

The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should contact his or her insurance company to determine what type of coverage is available for damage or cleanup in their yard.

In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to file a homeowners insurance claim. Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover the cost of tree cleanup, depending on your policy and the company you work with.

Good news: Homeowners insurance from ERIE typically pays for the cost (subject to sublimits) of removal of fallen trees if it’s due to a covered peril, such as a storm.

If there’s ever an issue between neighbors, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out.

THE CLAIMS PROCESS

If a tree falls on your house, the first thing to do, if it’s safe, is to try to prevent further damage to your home and property. Make sure to take some photos to document what happened. Then call your insurance agent, who can explain your options and help you understand if and how to file a claim. When you file a claim, a claims adjuster will come by to evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It’s recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.

Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it’s not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, you should call a professional to remove it. (Again, talk to your insurance agent and a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car.) Depending on the damage and terms of your insurance coverage, the optional comprehensive coverage you may have under your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss.

PREVENTING TREE DAMAGE

Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.

Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect. One of the best things to do is to regularly have large trees trimmed. (The Tree Care Industry Association lists accredited tree care professionals.)

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Getting Married

6 Smart Insurance Questions for Newlyweds

So you’ve tied the knot – or at least are starting to prepare for the big day. This major life step often leads to plans to buy a house or upgrade your apartment so there’s enough room for the two of you…  and perhaps some future bundles of joy.

Amid the whirlwind of excitement and change, insurance may not be top of mind as you’re mapping out your new life together. But making some smart decisions now can help ensure sure you are well protected and positioned to thrive into the future.

Here are six smart questions to discuss with your insurance agent.

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK AN INSURANCE AGENT IN YOUR 20’S AND 30’S

1. We’re getting married. Should we wed our auto insurance as well?

If one of you has a Mad Max-like driving history, then auto insurance might be one of those things you don’t merge once married. But if you and your spouse both have good driving records and no recent gaps in insurance coverage, you might save money by combining policies.

For a few more dollars a month, you can add ERIE Auto Plus, which includes features such as additional days of transportation expense coverage1 and waived deductible in certain situations that make ERIE’s great auto coverage even better.

2. We’re hunting for our first house – should homeowners insurance weigh into what we buy?

In the excitement of finding that first home, some buyers forget to consider the cost of homeowners insurance, and how different locations and types of homes might impact it. According to Realtor.com, the average annual cost for homeowners insurance is $952. However, factors such as distance from a fire department, proximity to storm-prone coastal areas, age of the home and your claims history can play a role in what it ultimately costs to insure a particular house.

A conversation with your ERIE agent as you start your search can give you a better perspective on potential costs and how they may impact what you can afford.

3. We’re having a baby. Should we get life insurance?

A new baby brings new responsibilities – and new expenses. Life insurance can help make sure that if an untimely death occurs, the surviving spouse can handle those responsibilities and costs without interruption.

Life insurance pays money to a chosen beneficiary — a spouse or co-parent, for example — when the insured person dies. In the short term, you can use the life insurance proceeds to pay for funeral expenses. Over time, it can help pay the mortgage and fund your child’s education.

These 8 tips for first-time life insurance buyers provide useful information to get you started.

4. Term or whole life?

So you’ve resolved to get life insurance. Now you face a new question: What kind?

  • Term life: Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific number of years (such as a 30-year policy to sync up with your new 30-year mortgage). For young people starting out, term is often the easiest, most affordable option.
  • Whole life: If you’re looking for lifelong coverage, then consider a whole life policy, sometimes called a permanent life plan. A smart approach is to get term insurance and make sure you’re covered now. During your policy term, you may often have the option to renew it or convert it into a permanent life plan.

A local ERIE agent can explain your options and help you decide what’s best for you.

5. What do you offer beyond the basics for homeowners insurance?

We get it: Your home is often the biggest investment you’ll make. It’s worth it to add on some extra protection to protect what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Ask your local agent about ERIE Secure Home Bundles, which allow you to expand your protection beyond our standard homeowner’s policy with coverage available for underground service lines, appliances and more.

6. We’re digital natives… why do we need a human insurance agent?

It makes sense to buy a lot of products online. Buying online is often easier – and sometimes more cost effective. But when it comes to insurance, a DIY online policy isn’t always the best choice. Because insurance protects the things you care about most, there are benefits to working with an insurance agent.

As an experienced local pro, an ERIE agent can answer your questions, help you understand what you really do (and don’t) need and talk you through things if you ever need to file a claim.

Still curious? See what made our list of 6 reasons why customers love working with a local ERIE agent.

GETTING MARRIED? GET A QUOTE WITH ERIE

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The Safest Cars of 2021

IIHS: The Safest Cars of 2021

For safety-conscious drivers, the 2021 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety TOP SAFETY PICK awards represent a wealth of choices.

Each year, the IIHS, a nonprofit research and education organization, conducts tests to determine which vehicles do the best job of protecting people in the most common kinds of crashes — front, side, rollover and rear. Vehicles must also score well in front crash prevention and headlights.

The IIHS awarded winners in 11 size categories, from small cars to large pickups. This year’s number of vehicles on the IIHS list increased by more than 50 percent over 2020, and the cars earning the premium TOP SAFETY PICK+ accolade more than doubled.

WHAT MAKES A TOP SAFETY PICK?

Almost every year, the IIHS slightly adjusts its criteria for vehicles to earn either TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ status. When establishing the criteria for the awards, the IIHS phases in new requirements gradually – first as criteria for the “plus” award, then later for the regular TOP SAFETY PICK award. This gives automakers time to plan ahead and adjust future designs.

Here are a few features you’ll find in this year’s top rated vehicles:

  • Headlight improvements: Starting last year, only vehicles with good or acceptable headlights across all trims and packages could earn TOP SAFETY PICK+ status. By keeping this standard, automakers responded by more doubling the vehicles that qualify.
  • Front crash prevention: Vehicles are not required to have standard front crash prevention to qualify for the awards, but it didn’t hurt any of the winners. All 49 TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners and 31 TOP SAFETY PICK winners have standard systems that meet the vehicle-to-vehicle requirement. And all but one of the “plus” picks also meet the prevention criterion with their standard systems.
  • Crashworthiness: Of course, all award winners need strong performance in all six IIHS crash tests. Last year, the IIHS required a higher standard of “good” in the passenger-side small overlap front test. (In 2019, the lower “acceptable” rating was sufficient to win an award.)

For more details on how IIHS crash tests work (and what they look for), visit the safety ratings page on the IIHS website.

THE 2021 TOP SAFETY PICK+ WINNERS

In all, 90 cars and SUVs earned TOP SAFETY PICK status, including 49 that achieved the elite “plus” distinction. This total represents a marked increase from 2020, when 64 models were named TOP SAFETY PICKs and 23 garnered plus designation.

Volvo paced the field with nine TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards. The Swedish automaker placed four models each in the midsize luxury car (S60, S60 Recharge, V60 and V60 Recharge) and midsize luxury SUV (XC 60, XC60 Recharge, XC90 and XC90 Recharge) categories, while its XC40 also earned the distinction in the small SUV class.

Hyundai Motor Group —which manufactures the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands — again led all automakers with 12 overall TOP SAFETY PICKS, including five pluses. The Hyundai Palisade and Nexo, Genesis G70 and G90, and the Kia K5 each earned top marks.

For the full list of winners and ratings, visit iihs.org/ratings.

INSURANCE FOR NEW AND USED CARS

Car shopping can represent the perfect time to reconsider your auto insurance. Here are a few related stories from our blog that might provide some helpful insight:

Whether you plan on purchasing a 2021 TOP SAFETY PICK, a different vehicle or are sticking with your current set of wheels, a local ERIE agent is ready to help you find the perfect coverage for you. Contact them today to start a conversation.

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